Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Viktor Vaughn

  • Vaudeville Villain [Sound-Ink, 2003] A
  • (VV:2): Venomous Villain [Insomniac, Inc., 2004] A-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Vaudeville Villain [Sound-Ink, 2003]
Going back to the tragically foreshortened KMD, tragically foreshortened Long Island rapper MF Doom made so many albums it would take days to even count them; every discography I've seen makes a different kind of hash of his plethora-and-a-half of pseudonyms and collaborations except to establish that he slowed down after 2010, when US immigration officials wouldn't allow London-born Muslim Five Percenter Daniel Dumile to return to the nation where he'd grown up, thus exiling him in London. In 2011 I bought this 2003 effort by one of his more legible aliases, but never figured out how to make journalistic use of it until it was revealed that he'd died under undisclosed circumstances on October 31. Now I've played it some dozen times and done enough comparison listening to report that it could very well be his best. As Ta-Nehisi Coates's 2009 New Yorker profile documents, Dumile was a fundamentally comic artist for whom rhyme as opposed to meaning was king. "Rob Reiner/knob shiner" to "hucklebuck/knucklefuck" to "holding cell/told in hell"--on this album they don't stop for a single track. For an illustration of what he'll never do, however, check out the grave Sam Buca here, who's first up on the mock "Open Mic Nite, Pt. 1" intoning "This is the tone/The tone that I speak/The voice, the unheard voice of my people." With the INS presiding, Dumile became a very different kind of unheard voice of his people, so funny and so unmistakably intelligent. It was 2012 before his wife and kids could rejoin him in England. In 2017 he revealed that his 14-year-old son King Malachi Ezekiel had died. So it's not hard to understand why many admirers figure that what killed him in October was suicide. A

(VV:2): Venomous Villain [Insomniac, Inc., 2004]
Stuffed-up flow. Championship scratching. A lid on the C-movie dialogue. "Titty fat"/"kitty cat"/"pretty hat"/"pitty-pat"/"kiddies, brats"/"shitty gats"/"where they at"/"city rats"/"gritty stats"/"chicks be at"/"chitty-chat"/"pity that." "Instincts"/"pink drinks." Any questions? A-